When I was a kid, I spent hours collecting coltsfoot, a common wild plant in Ireland, whose large rubbery leaves sport a thin downy coat. I gathered my leaves in a bucket and, when I had enough, placed my bucket over a 'fire' (really just a pile of sticks) and cooked 'cabbage stew'. Sometimes I added hawthorn leaves for flavour, honeysuckle flowers for colour, or dock leaves for texture, but the velvety coltsfoot was always the centerpoint of my creation. As I stirred my cabbage stew, I felt like a pioneer of old, surviving alone in the great outdoors.
The feeling of those coltsfoot leaves, which I would press against my cheek just for the joy of feeling their soft surface, is still one of my strongest textural memories. It's the first thing I always think of whenever I use sage, whose felten suface always reminds me a little of my old friend coltsfoot - which brings me neatly to this recipe.